Title: House-training Your Dog
By: Brandi Barker, MFA, CPDT    2010-03-08   1:13 PM     19617 Views      Category: Training

Teaching a dog the appropriate place to do his or her business is a skill that will pay off for the rest of your life together.  Here are a few rules to live by and your dog or pup will be potty trained in no time

Manage the environment

Your dog needs to be crated or attached to you with a leash to prevent accidents.  If you allow your new puppy to have free run of your whole home, it is too easy for you to look away for one second and miss an accident.  Get it out of your mind that your dog knows he or she did a bad thing because you see a guilty look. Your dog is simply responding to your tense body language.  You have the rest of your dog’s life to give all the freedom in the world.  Prevent accidents now by keeping your dog in the crate or leashed to you when you are not engaging in play or training, you will be thankful for years to come.  This may mean that your dog is in the crate for two hour intervals and only comes out for training, socialization, walks, meals and play.  That is ok, you are preventing accidents and teaching your dog to settle down in your busy home.  Once you have a week with no accidents at all, you can slowly increase freedom in the home. Just make sure your dog’s bladder is empty when you do so and keep your dog in your sight the entire time.  Too much, too soon can cause accidents.


Assign a spot and take your dog there on a consistent schedule

If the dog is new in your home or a puppy, that needs to be every hour or two (even in the middle of the night).  You need to physically walk with your dog to the potty pad, spot in your back yard or designated potty spot on leash walks.  It needs to be the same exact spot every single time.  If your dog potties there once, it does not mean you have potty training success.  It is important to continue to walk with your dog to make sure business happens and to praise and treat for successful urination and defecation in the appropriate place.  If your dog does not potty within 10 minutes, go back inside and crate or leash your dog to you.  When business does not occur outside, it is very easy for an accident to happen.  If you do not go with your dog, you have no idea if he or she did their business.  Make sure to praise and treat on the pad or spot outside. Do not wait until your dog comes in the house or is in another room.   


If your dog has lived in your home and had accidents for an extended amount of time, your job is more difficult.

In your dog’s  mind, your home is an absolutely fine place to do his or her business. Many dogs learn where they are supposed to go pretty quickly (pad, favorite tree, bush, etc.) but do need more help understanding that the rug or corner are not acceptable places to go.  It is just as critical that you clean, confine and generously reward for action on the potty spot.  If you have done any scolding for inside accidents, you may find your dog is timid to do his or her business while you are there.  I find that sitting, kneeling or pretending to look away can take the pressure off enough to make your dog more comfortable to do his or her business. I have met a few dogs who refuse for a day or more to do their business in front of their guardian because of previous scolding.  Be patient, wait near the spot and limit indoor freedom. Once you FINALLY have action, reward it generously.  Stand with your dog for 10-15 minutes and crate or confine, try the next hour. Repeat, repeat, repeat and do not get frustrated, it can hinder the potty process.


Make sure you clean hard surfaces thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner designed specifically for pet odors in every space your dog has had an accident.  Do not use ammonia, it actually attracts peeing.  Dogs have a phenomenal sense of smell so scrub, shine and scrub again to make sure there are no traces of urination or defecation smell.  All rugs should be steamed cleaned, it is the only way to completely remove all scent.  If you catch your dog in the act, a simple ‘ack’ might stop it and then take your dog to the potty spot, reward. If it happens when you are not there, simply clean it up. Scolding a dog after the fact does not prevent the accidents but will damage your relationship and can cause your dog to find spots away from you to do his or her business. Again, the rule is to  limit freedom temporarily to assure your dog knows your living room is not a urinal. You backslide in your training every single time your dog has an accident. If the above seems daunting, think of all the frustration, time and cleaning bills you will save if you stick to a plan. 

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